Home Pyrotechnics Flares How Long Does A Hand Flare Usually Last?

How Long Does A Hand Flare Usually Last?

How Long Does A Hand Flare Usually Last?

Flares are used in civilian and military applications to signal danger, to show your position, and to attract attention for help. Ships usually use them to forewarn other vessels of their position or if there is a danger to life and/or to the vessel. How long do they last? 

Red handheld flares are highly visible from the air and can typically burn for up to 60 seconds. On the contrary, the orange smoke hand flares last for about 3 minutes. Both handheld flares are effective as a line-of-sight distress signal both day and night.

Remember, use flares only when you’re in an emergency and you need to get attention or when there is an organized flare demonstration. Make sure you have read the instructions before using them and store them in a dry or waterproof container.

Continue reading to learn more about hand flares. 

Is It Illegal To Ignite A Flare?

Flares are tubes filled with explosive and combustible chemicals. Flares are dangerous and can cause injury if safety precautions are not taken. They contain toxic chemicals and burn at the melting point of steel (high heat release).

Except in an emergency, it is illegal to possess or use hand flares in a public place. It is unsafe and illegal to test or discharge a flare if not to signal actual distress or danger. They’re only valid for 4 years from the manufacture date. Moreover, flares should be disposed of carefully and immediately if they are damaged or exceed their expiration date.

You must take safety precautions when using flares. Do not assume that all flares will ignite in the same manner. Wear eye protection as corrosive chemicals may irritate your eyes. 

What To Remember When Using Hand Flares?

Flares are a useful item to carry, but keep in mind that they should only be used in emergencies. Ironically, despite being created to rescue you from danger, they contain explosive chemicals that, if released improperly, can result in severe burns and serious injury.

If you have old, expired hand flares, don’t fire them; instead, contact your local fire department or coastguard to find out how to safely dispose of them. To reduce the possibility of an accidental flare ignition, store them in a dry place away from sunlight, heat, and bodies that can ignite them.

Flares should be allowed to burn until they are completely extinguished. It becomes inert after ignition. Never store partially burned flares in automobiles. And remember to discard all used flare components, that is, not to store them with stored flares.


Hand flares have a shelf life of 4 years, but they usually last for 1 minute each, depending on the type of hand flare used. Store them in a cool and dry place to avoid dangerous incidents. If you intend to carry hand flares, make sure you understand how they work before you need to use them. Don’t keep them for any longer than the time specified on the package.